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Table of Contents
Before we talk about AKPK, let’s talk about housing loans and financial literacy.
Just like any other financial commitments out there, housing loans require monthly payments to be sustained. Not surprisingly, housing loans take out a bigger, if not the biggest chunk of our monthly paychecks when compared to the rest of our bills. This is due to the fact houses are considered real estates – non-mobile assets that cannot be traded and whose value does not deteriorate or shift by the hour.
With so many bills to keep tabs on, it can be easy for us to lose ourselves in a sea of bills. This brings another topic to mind – Financial literacy. What is financial literacy? Well, in the most layman terms, financial literacy refers to one’s ability to manage, budget and invest their finances.
Financial literacy has been around for a long time, though it was only recently that it gained traction among Malaysians. Following the onset of MCO in 2020, many Malaysians regardless of status have begun realizing the importance of saving and hedging themselves against any financial catastrophe. In fact, a survey conducted by RinggitPlus last year found that 53% of Malaysians’ savings would only last them for 3 months, in the event they were to lose their job.
In turn, this raises a few concerning questions – In a time of inflation or catastrophe, how long can our savings last us? How can we budget our monthly spending and still retain some savings in the process? Can they withstand the test of times and guarantee you a good night’s rest? And the golden question of all times – Do they allow us to pay our housing loans with peace of mind?
Unfortunately, the art of managing our finances is one that continues to elude Malaysians to date. The sad truth is we are spoilt with choices in our daily lives, and we still find ourselves overspending frequently This results in financially detrimental moments which hinders our ability to pay our housing loans, among many other bills on time, and this is an undesirable behaviour.
Thankfully, AKPK is here to address that. So, let’s go back to AKPK. What is AKPK? And how does it fit into a world of housing loans and financial literacy?
Founded in 2006 as part of Bank Negara Malaysia’s 10-year plan to propel the country’s economy to greater heights, AKPK is an agency that aims to promote financial literacy amongst Malaysians of all ages. It is formally known as Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit, or the Credit Counseling and Debt Management Agency in English. By educating households and SMEs to make financially smart and prudent choices, AKPK’s goal is to cultivate a nation that is financially resilient enough to withstand the test of times.
AKPK offers an array of services to help Malaysians better manage their finances. From providing advisory services to assisting SMEs in resolving small-time debts, there is a little bit of everything for everyone.
For the purpose and context of this write-up, however, we’ll be focusing on the channels that are relevant to the average Malaysians. As mentioned above, AKPK’s objective is to cultivate a community that is financially informed. This is accomplished via three major channels.
Starting off with the very first program on the list – Financial education. Just like its name implies, financial education is a program that is carefully curated to educate Malaysians of all ages and gender about the importance of finances. While the program’s target audiences are tertiary-level students or freshies, AKPK has since extended its coverage to include senior citizens or adults following a large demand from the public. As such, the program structure caters to four crucial groups, which includes:
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about some of life’s burning questions like:
Rest assured, AKPK’s financial education program has got you covered.
In fact, AKPK has a course that is specially dedicated to educating first-time homebuyers about the A-Zs of buying a property. Titled ‘RumahKu’, the course looks into the processes involved in the before, during and after stages of purchasing a home. Some of the topics covered within the course include but are not limited to:
While most AKPK-related courses require one to be physically present, RumahKu has the added advantage of being conducted online, which means participants have the luxury of attending the course anywhere and at their preferred timing. On a final note, it is worth noting that all courses, including RumahKu, have limited slots available, meaning the courses are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, one would do well to enrol themselves ahead of time should they wish to learn the ropes of purchasing a home.
If you already have the basics in finance management and wish to take your financial literacy a notch further, or perhaps you would like to have a hands-on approach to financial management, you may consider financial advisory instead.
In comparison to financial education which offers information on a theoretical level, financial advisory provides practical and realistic approaches to help individuals manage their existing financial problems.
Take home buying for an example. You’ve saved up long enough to finally afford a home. You spent months hunting for your dream home. You’ve visited countless areas and spoken to dozens of real estate agents. You’ve narrowed down your options to the best 5. Finally, you’ve decided to go with the pretty house located somewhere in the serene neighbourhoods of TTDI.
You seal the deal with the respective agent, because finders keepers, losers weepers right? You patiently wait as your agent assists you with the necessary documentation to apply for a housing loan. After days or perhaps weeks of waiting, your agent finally gives you a call. But it is not the answer you had hoped for…
“The bank has rejected your request for a housing loan.”
You mentally scan through a number of possibilities and attempt to determine the reason behind the bank’s rejection. You possess a clean record, you pay your bills on time, your debts are well-managed. What is going on? In truth, such scenarios are extremely prevalent for homebuyers. Be it a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned one, most would have experienced this at least once in their lifetime.
Being a good citizen, possessing a clean record, paying your debts on time aren’t the end-all, be-all to getting a housing loan. They are merely precursors to getting your foot into the (bank’s) door.
Apart from maintaining a clean track record, the bank looks at your credit score and income criteria, two major caveats that guarantee your odds of obtaining a housing loan. Put simply, if neither of these criteria is met, the rest would most likely fail to follow either, resulting in the bank’s rejection of your application.
This is where AKPK’s financial advisory program comes into the topic. Better known as MyKNP, the program helps individuals identify their financial shortcomings, before providing any solutions that would increase one’s chances of obtaining a housing loan. Commonly looked into factors include:
There are, however, several other lesser-known factors that play a role in determining one’s odds of obtaining a housing loan, which are:
In the event that the individual fails to obtain a housing loan despite taking numerous actions to increase their eligibility for one, AKPK may instead recommend alternative financing channels such as peer-to-peer financing (P2P) to help one resolve their financing needs.
P2P financing is otherwise known as a lender-borrower channel, wherein individuals are directed to a registered P2P platform, which in this case is Suruhanjaya Sekuriti (Security Commission Malaysia) to help obtain a loan.
All in all, MyKNP provides a plethora of solutions to help one better increase their odds of securing a housing loan. Before we go on, we would like to note that the similarities between financial education and financial advisory overlap somewhat and it can be difficult for first-time homebuyers to differentiate the two.
An easy way to tell the two apart is to realize that both are a case of theory vs. application. If financial education is the tip of the iceberg, then financial advisory would be the bottom half that is submerged beneath the ocean. A deep dive of what we’ve learned essentially.
Let’s assume that you have successfully obtained a housing loan. All is well, you rejoice and resign yourself to paying off your bills for a portion of your life. But then, tragedy strikes. Perhaps, an elderly family member of yours is hospitalized and requires financial aid. Maybe MCO kicked in for the umpteenth time, the world market is in shambles, companies are falling, and you were let off from your job.
Your plans to pay off your housing loans in a set amount of years is derailed. Your savings dwindle with each passing month, you are unable to secure a job to weather off the MCO storm, at times you wake up in the middle night worrying about your housing loan.
Such is the case for many people during MCO. Life is often unpredictable, and while the saying goes luck favours the prepared, one can only prepare so much to mitigate any potential risks or adverse consequences. Even when it isn’t MCO, there are people and SMEs out there who are embroiled in debts and require financial assistance.
The good news in all this is you’re not alone, and you need not feel ashamed or horrible about having debts in your life. In fact, given our surroundings and high living costs, debts are surprisingly common, especially if you have just purchased a house for yourself. What truly matters is your ability to pay your debts on time.
However, if you have landed yourself in a tough spot and find it hard to pay off your debts, perhaps it’s time you consider reaching out to AKPK’s Debt Management Program (DMP) to learn how you can manage your finances before it snowballs.
DMP helps debt-stricken individuals regain control over their finances by working with them to come up with a personalized debt repayment plan. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that debt-stricken individuals are able to repay their loans in the shortest, most manageable, and realistic time frame possible. In order to qualify for DMP however, several factors need to be taken into account:
Assuming the applicant has fulfilled the criteria above, they are then subjected to the following processes to qualify for DMP:
An important thing to stress here is that AKPK does not charge individuals for their financial advisory sessions. Any payments made to AKPK will be made to the bank to which the individual is indebted. This means that AKPK is solely responsible for helping the individual distribute their loan payments evenly and transferring their money to the respective banks as a part of the debt repayment plan.
While having debts in our lives is perfectly normal, there are bound to be individuals who are concerned about how DMP may possibly affect their social or professional lives, nonetheless. Therefore, debt-stricken individuals may be delighted to know the following:
Furthermore, applicants with housing loans may also wish to take note of the financial institutions that are affiliated with DMP:
So it is wise that applicants do their due diligence before approaching AKPK for DMP-related assistance.
On a final note, applicants should note that AKPK does not provide financial aid of any kind, including loans to the public. AKPK is merely responsible for providing financial advice to the affected individual, and financial aids of any kind should be sought from the individual’s respective financial institutions instead.
At the end of the day, it’s important for us to realize debts of any kind isn’t inherently bad. Left unattended however, it can quickly spiral out of control and pose some detrimental consequences in our lives. As the adage goes, the sooner you act on it, the quicker things get resolved. And the first step to that is having a sense of financial self-awareness and developing a sense of financial literacy.
While times may be hard and they’re here to stay, it’s important for us to remember that one need not suffer in pain or helplessness. By turning to AKPK for financial advice, one can certainly find ways to cope and manage their financial commitments, housing loans included. Remember, tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
What services does AKPK provide to the public?
AKPK provides a myriad of services to the public to help people better manage their finances. Their core services, however, are financial education, financial advisory services and Debt Management Program (DMP).
Does AKPK charge a certain amount of fees for their services?
All courses and advisory services offered under AKPK are free of charge unless stated otherwise.
Who is eligible for AKPK’s services?
Any able-bodied individuals of any age, race or gender who wishes to learn more about finance management or seek financial advice are eligible for AKPK’s services.
Where can I seek AKPK’s services?
AKPK’s services are available at all branches located throughout Malaysia. If a particular service is unavailable in the form of talks or briefings, it would be available online instead.
Does AKPK provide financial aids of any kind to the public?
AKPK only provides financial advice and not financial aid, including loans, to the public. Individuals seeking financial aid should direct their queries to their respective financial institutions or other relevant body for further assistance instead.
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